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Why newspapers are going bankrupt

July 29th, 2009 by · 46 Comments

Yes, yes, you might read any number of commentaries about why the decline of the newspaper happened so rapidly . But nobody is addressing the key issue: that the comics used to look like THIS:


And now look like this:


Let’s take a closer look at the Katzenjammer Kids comic (the Born Loser strip is best left ignored, lest you descend into madness wondering how someone has convinced a business that is going bankrupt to pay him for this type of thing everyday for several decades.  Also, a true story, probably over a decade ago, I wrote one of the only Letters to the Editor I’ve ever written, to the Washington Post, imploring them to cancel The Born Loser.)

This was the first Katzenjammer Kids cartoon I came across in a Google Image search, so I have no idea whether the insanity depicted in it is more over the top than your typical Katzenjammer Kids comic.  I will assume that it is a middle of the road strip, just because if that turns out to be true, it means that the crazy ones must have been really crazy.

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Panel 1: The Katzenjammer Kids come across The Captain, who is laid up in a wheelchair with a broken leg. He is passed out and snoring.

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Panel 2:  Their immediate reaction: go and get a caged pig from somewhere on the boat.  Note that there is no discussion about where to obtain a caged pig.  They simply wander off to the area where presumably, pigs in cages are stacked to the ceiling, and borrow one for the afternoon.

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Panel 3:  The blonde Katzenjammer Kid proposes the course of action to his brother: shoving the pig down some sort of pipe.  The other Kid is shocked. Evidently, he was fine with going along with the plan to drag a pig in a cage out of the pig in a cage storage room, but did not bother to question what they might be doing with the pig.

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Panel 4:  They flip a coin to decide who has to do the deed.  The Captain’s snoring continues to be amplified to industrial road grader volume.  The pig looks worried. Also, take note of the pigs cage.  Somehow it has been able to turn around a few times already, when in reality, the extreme confined quarters would have rendered his muscle mass a useless, gelatinous goo, unable to support his delicious, bacony frame.

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Panel 5:  We await the results of the coin flip as the swine, no doubt infested with an impossible number of sea-faring vermin, scratches itself.

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Panel 6: Evidently the blonde Kid has either won or lost the coin toss and must deposit the pig down the pipe, which he does without a second thought. Now, there is run of the mill school boy mischief, and then there is the kind of mischief where barnyard animals are inserted into duct work.  The latter usually only is perpetrated by children in the comics or by fraternities in college movies as a means to interrupt a speech by the “Crusty Old Dean” archetype.

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Panel 7:  The pig lands head first, directly on the Captain’s shattered leg, no doubt rebreaking it and causing immense pain in the hobbled old man.  The purpose of the pipe, which would be inaccessible from the ground, remains unclear.

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Panel 8:  The blonde Kid observes the Captain’s agony with amusement while the other one, without knowing whether or not the pig even survived the fall, prepares to catapult his brother towards the same fate.

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Panel 9:  Which he does, with a look of demented joy on his face.

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Panel 10:  The blonde Kid crashes at a high velocity onto the Captain’s still throbbing leg, prompting the exponentially more agonized cry of “Owitch!”  The pig, sensing glorious freedom for the first time in its wretched life, makes its getaway.

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Panel 11:  Despite the anguish of a twice rebroken leg, the Captain keeps his wits about him long enough to seize his cane and beat the hell out of the Kid. You have to admire the mans singular focus.  After being awoken by a pig re-breaking his leg, he must have been pretty confused and groggy. But then a few seconds later, when someone elses child falls from the sky and re-re-breaks his leg, his immediate reaction is to reach for his cane and rain down blows upon the boys backside. The pig continues to  flee, which is a nice touch, as is the delighted giggling of the beaten boys brother eminating from the pipe whose purpose other than pig/boy conveyance continues to baffle.

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Panel 12:  The blonde Kid, his ass still smarting from the caning, threatens his terrified brother with a sword as a great white shark looks on, eagerly awaiting a full meal after the appetizer of the confused and panicked pig that no doubt blundered into the water.

Now that is a comic!!!

Tags: RiffTrax · silly